Pandemic, stigma barriers to health care for people who use substances

Elaine Hyshka one of three U of A researchers to join the ranks of renewed Canada Research Chairs

Pandemic, stigma barriers to health care for people who use substancesHospitals aren’t better equipped to help those struggling with a substance use disorder because of ongoing stigma in health care, according to a University of Alberta public health researcher who suggests the pandemic has underscored the need for change. “Even though we have a wide range of very effective interventions for reducing the risk of…

We must address the growing crisis of opioid-related deaths

Drug users are going to keep using, so a better route to saving lives is to ensure drugs are clean and safe

We must address the growing crisis of opioid-related deathsWe’re supposed to be merry and bright as we approach the holidays and the new year. This year, there are many reasons to be less cheerful and festive. We’ve managed to make it through floods, fires and heat domes, but the pandemic persists with the Omicron mutation, inflation threatens our economy and the big, ugly…

Does prescribed opioid use in children lead to later drug misuse?

Calls for rigorous research to determine if short-term medical use in children is safe

Does prescribed opioid use in children lead to later drug misuse?Pediatric researchers are calling for more rigorous research into the possible link between short-term opioid use for pain management in childhood and opioid use disorder later in life. The University of Alberta team reviewed the results of 21 previous studies but found no definitive answer to the question, according to a new study published this week in…

Hunter Biden’s art career can’t help but ensnare his father

The president’s son could reap a small fortune from the sales of his mediocre art

Hunter Biden’s art career can’t help but ensnare his fatherMany public and political figures have enjoyed painting, drawing or sculpting as a budding career or a carefree pastime. United Kingdom Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill created over 500 paintings and sold a few in his lifetime. Several U.S. presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, displayed a…

Artificial intelligence predicts new illegal drugs before they hit the streets

Staying one step ahead of illicit drug makers

Artificial intelligence predicts new illegal drugs before they hit the streetsAn international team of researchers is using artificial intelligence to predict new illegal drugs before they hit the streets – which could help save lives and fight crime. “We are anticipating what street drugs, or novel psychoactive substances, will appear before they are made or before they enter communities,” said team member David Wishart, University…

U of A researcher part of team receiving $2 million to fight overdose epidemic

National Overdose Response Service provides safety, dignity and support to drug users anywhere in Canada

U of A researcher part of team receiving $2 million to fight overdose epidemicCOVID-19 social isolation is one of the main causes of Canada’s overdose epidemic. Each day there are up to 17 overdoses in Canada and two to four in Alberta. The vast majority of overdoses occur when people use alone. Monty Ghosh, a physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta and the University of…

Data highlights value of supervised drug consumption services

Increased visits play a role in a decrease in overdose deaths

Data highlights value of supervised drug consumption servicesResearchers have found a link between increased visits to supervised consumption sites in Alberta and decreased fentanyl-related overdose deaths. Using publicly available opioid-response reports from the province of Alberta, the University of Alberta researchers looked at the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths by quarter from 2017 to 2020, as well as the number of visits…

Innovative syringe detects potentially lethal fentanyl overdose

Potentially life-saving product wins Telus Innovation Challenge's $100,000 first prize

Innovative syringe detects potentially lethal fentanyl overdoseA group of University of Alberta science students won $100,000 to help turn a brainstorming session about what could have helped family members avoid a fentanyl overdose into a street-ready solution that will ultimately be a lifeline for those who struggle with addiction. “We’ve witnessed addiction and overdose in our families, so we were talking…

The war on drugs is costly and off-target

A report on drug abuse released by police chiefs is less about reducing drug abuse and more about protecting police budgets and jobs

The war on drugs is costly and off-targetThe Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) recently released a 14-page report on the decriminalization of drugs. The report points to a large body of evidence illustrating the efficacy of safe consumption sites in achieving a number of health and social objectives. That’s especially true when clients are offered access to integrated health and…

What can you do about the opioid crisis?

Much like first aid and CPR, bystander naloxone training is one of the best tools available to save lives, U of A experts say

What can you do about the opioid crisis?Who needs a free naloxone kit? Just about anyone who might come across an opioid overdose, according to a range of University of Alberta experts, including a pharmacist, the head of campus security, a student volunteer and a public health scientist. Alberta Health Services first made the kits and training available for free to the…

Why COVID-19 could make the overdose epidemic worse

Social isolation can be deadly for people struggling with addictions, says University of Alberta expert

Why COVID-19 could make the overdose epidemic worseWhen Alberta’s chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, announced special exemptions to COVID-19 regulations for group therapy in residential addiction treatment centres, it was exactly what University of Alberta addictions expert Cameron Wild was hoping to hear. “The whole concept of recovery is in part founded on developing strong social supportive relationships,” said Wild. Wild is principal investigator with the…

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illness

Psychotic episodes can occur for a variety of reasons, not all of them having to do with mental illness

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illnessHallucinations and delusions are the first things many people imagine when they hear about mental illness. They think of people who hear voices, see imaginary people or think they are someone they’re not. While hallucinations and delusions are not the hallmark of every mental illness, they can occur as a symptom of several disorders. Schizophrenia…

The sad reality of teen mothers who give birth in care

A much greater emphasis needs to be put on dual placements – whenever possible, mothers and children should be placed together

The sad reality of teen mothers who give birth in careGirls who spend time in the care of child protection services have higher rates of teenage pregnancy and teenage mothers are more likely to have their child taken into care. Teenage mothers who give birth when they’re in care are also more likely to have their children taken into care. Until recently, we didn’t know…

More isn’t always better when it comes to prescription medications

By thinking twice before prescribing and talking with patients about the risks of medications, clinicians are tackling overuse

More isn’t always better when it comes to prescription medicationsBy Karen Born and Wendy Levinson University of Toronto Canadians are living longer than ever and we are also taking more medications than ever. And this can make us sicker, not healthier. A report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that one in four seniors in Canada take 10 or more medications. That’s…

The war on drugs must be fought at addiction’s social roots

The answer to addiction will not be found in the industries of incarceration and prescription

The war on drugs must be fought at addiction’s social rootsOn Oct. 21, pharmaceutical opioid distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, and drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to a US$260-million settlement just hours before opening arguments were scheduled to begin in the first opioid-era federal lawsuit in Ohio. This is the first of hundreds of similar lawsuits filed by cities, counties, Native American tribes…

Constraining pain medication will only worsen drug problem

Limiting access to alcohol led to chaos during the Prohibition. Will constraining opioids do the same?

Constraining pain medication will only worsen drug problemThere are so many reasons to be very glad that we live in Canada – one of the main is that we’re governed by the rule of law. Laws and the rules and regulations that underpin them are enacted by democratically-elected governments. They’re enforced and upheld by police and courts that are amazingly upright and…

Use of cannabis balloons in Canada

An estimated 13% of Canadian workers who are cannabis users consumed the drug before or during work: StatsCan

Use of cannabis balloons in CanadaData released Thursday by Statistics Canada indicates just why the cannabis industry has become such a big part of the Canadian economy in recent months. The federal agency reported that about 5.3 million or 18 per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported using cannabis in the last three months. This was higher…

Opioids are killing Canadians in the thousands

Abstinence-based treatment is ineffective. We need to invest heavily in harm reduction strategies

Opioids are killing Canadians in the thousandsBy Sen. Jane Cordy and Sen. Raymonde Gagné “I wasn’t born to be a drug addict,” said a brave member of the audience at our recent open caucus meeting in the Senate on the Opioid Crisis in Canada. He told us of his struggle with drug addiction over two decades. His closing words hung in…

Cannabis legalization missteps leave little faith for solving opioid crisis

The delays, mistakes and outright incompetence related to cannabis legalization suggest we won't be able to manage opioid use

Cannabis legalization missteps leave little faith for solving opioid crisisEver since the oft-delayed rollout of legal recreational cannabis sales in Canada on Oct. 17, there have been problems across this vast and highly regulated land. All of these problems mean the illegal cannabis market remains intact. They also suggest we won't be particularly adept at handling legitimate drug crisis in this country. The cannabis-related…

The wisdom (or lack of) in prescribing opiates after tooth removal

A mother and a dentist team call for an end to routine opioid use for teens after wisdom tooth removal

The wisdom (or lack of) in prescribing opiates after tooth removalBy Amy Ma and Susan Sutherland Contributors We’re writing as a parent and a dentist to spread a message to parents and dental health-care providers across Canada: there are alternatives to prescribing opioids after wisdom teeth removal. Removing wisdom teeth is considered by many as a rite of passage for teenagers. It’s one of the…

Not all cannabis candies are created equal

Health Canada offers a framework for the sale of edible cannabis products before the October 2019 launch. Will we be ready?

Not all cannabis candies are created equalYou think October 2018 was complicated, wait until edible cannabis products are legalized by October 2019. It’s just a matter of time before the edible market represents the majority of the cannabis market in Canada. A study released last year suggested that 93 per cent of consumers supporting Ottawa’s legalization plans would try a cannabis-infused food…

Hearing the stories of survivors of abuse with compassion

If we can be ‘enlightened witnesses’ and listen without judgment, we can help the healing process

Hearing the stories of survivors of abuse with compassionMuch of the study of genocide has focused on how it happens and what it looks like. This is important but perhaps we need to go further. What do people go through after these crimes have been committed? What happens to children? There are many amazing books written by survivors of genocide: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s…

Heal our own pain and the pain of others, and heal the world

Our efforts to stop crime and violence through aggression and punishment have never worked. Compassion works

Heal our own pain and the pain of others, and heal the worldIt’s no secret that there’s tremendous pain in the world. What we’re not often aware of is the source of this pain. Not knowing where it’s from, we give into fear and actually make the problem worse. Canadian physician Gabor Mate has devoted his career to understanding why people do terrible things to themselves and…

Truth and Reconciliation proposals on child welfare destined to fail

Government is called upon for yet more legislation and more money when the real problem is poor parenting

Five calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report concern child welfare. They are all destined to fail. The calls to action focus on increasing funding for Indigenous welfare, establishing national standards for the various agencies, keeping Indigenous children in culturally-relevant homes, and reducing the number of Indigenous children in the…

What’s to keep universities from turning into stoner schools?

How marijuana use is reflected in attendance, participation, dropout and failure rates could make a persuasive story

What’s to keep universities from turning into stoner schools?With the exception of those people who smoke marijuana for medical purposes, I haven’t met many people who were improved by smoking up. In my experience with marijuana – and I admit my experience is limited to the second-hand variety – the stereotype of the bored and boring toker rings true. I’m among the few…

Blame the parents for suffering of children on the margins

Developmentally delayed children come into a failing welfare system due to irresponsible parents placing substance abuse ahead of their children

Blame the parents for suffering of children on the marginsMore than half of Winnipeg’s Indigenous homeless population are former wards of Child and Family Services (CFS). A former CFS ward explained on CBC recently that the 50 per cent figure was too low, not taking into account the significant number of former wards who “couch surf.” This group relies on the kindness of acquaintances…

Indigenous children continue to pay a steep price

No amount of funding plans or reorganization can solve this problem as long as alcohol and drug abuse persists in First Nations communities

Indigenous children continue to pay a steep priceWe want simple answers. But, sometimes, there aren’t any. Take Manitoba’s child welfare system, for example. We want to find a solution to a problem that has plagued us for generations: What to do about the huge numbers of Indigenous children taken into the care of child welfare agencies each year? Meetings are held in…

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illness

Psychotic episodes can occur for a variety of reasons, not all of them having to do with mental illness

Not all hallucinations or delusions are caused by mental illnessHallucinations and delusions are the first things many people imagine when they hear about mental illness. They think of people who hear voices, see imaginary people or think they are someone they’re not. While hallucinations and delusions are not the hallmark of every mental illness, they can occur as a symptom of several disorders. Schizophrenia…

Increase in counterfeit drugs a danger to Canadians

As the trade in counterfeit drugs grows, so do the risks to Canadian patients and the costs to legitimate manufacturers

Increase in counterfeit drugs a danger to CanadiansThe threat of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs is on the rise in Canada. From April 2016 to March 2017, Health Canada seized close to 5,500 packages of counterfeit drugs – mainly sexual enhancement drugs such as Viagra – on their way to patient hands. In a single week last year, Health Canada confiscated $2.5 million worth…

Why won’t Canada stand up to Purdue Pharma?

The opioid manufacturer admits to illegal activity in the U.S., stops ads there and pays hundreds of millions in penalties. In Canada, it's business as usual

Why won’t Canada stand up to Purdue Pharma?By Nav Persaud University of Toronto and Andrew S. Boozary University Health Network Canadians are paying dearly for government inaction over the opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma recently announced that it will stop advertising opioids to doctors in the United States after pleading guilty to misleading marketing more than a decade ago. This is a major,…